Blender 2.74 ships
The new viewport compositing features in Blender 2.74 add ambient occlusion and depth of field controls to Blender’s viewport, much as Viewport 2.0 did for Maya. The release also improves Blender’s hair dynamics.
Originally posted on 25 February. The software has now been released: scroll down for updates.
The Blender Foundation has begun filling in the online release notes for Blender 2.74, offering a sneak peek at the features coming up in the next release of the open-source 3D package.
Improved viewport display
For us, the most striking are the new viewport compositing options, which add support for ambient occlusion and depth of field, in a similar way to Maya’s Viewport 2.0, greatly improving the realism of the viewport display.
The effects are adjustable, and the release notes indicate that more viewport effects are planned in future.
More accurate hair simulation
Hair simulation has also been substantially improved, introducing collision support – between hair and other scene objects at least; there’s no self-collision yet.
However, there is now support for internal friction; and a new hair bending model promises to make grooming more accurate. There is also a new Spiral mode for the Kink hair modifier, helping simulate curly hair.
Extended Grease Pencil tool
The Grease Pencil tool introduced in Blender 2.73 has been further extended, gaining the option to cut and paste pencil strokes between layers or frames; and to manually adjust the pressure of existing strokes.
Other new features include support for motion blur in the planar tracker, shown in Sebastien König’s video above; and further updates to the Cycles renderer and the modelling, texture painting and animation tools.
Updated 2 April: Blender 2.74 has officially been released. It is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
As well as those listed above, other features listed in the now-complete online documentation include the option to paint textures using cavity masks.